This morning after I dropped Beth off at school I went home by a circuitous route through the back roads of Canterbury. I had solved a geocache puzzle some time ago (maybe a year ago) and decided it was high time I picked it up.

Before I got there, a white tailed deer sprung out from the woods and crossed the road in front of me. Since this was a country road with no traffic whatsoever, I stopped and looked at the deer for a minute. She had another deer with her, and I expect it was last year’s fawn. They were too far off in the woods to even think about photography, so I left my camera in the bag.

Then I went off to collect the geocache. It was in a guardrail next to this pretty little stream.

A stream in Canterbury, NH

A stream in Canterbury, NH

Having found the cache, I got back in the car and looked for a place to turn around. Not finding one, the road took me to a farm (Hackleboro Apple Orchard), so I turned around there. I don’t like turning around where a road ends basically in someone’s driveway, but sometimes, that’s what happens.

As I made my way back through Canterbury, I saw a very large cat bound across the road in front of me. It was a bobcat! I had never seen one in the wild before, so this was a first for me. It stopped about 100 yards into the forest, turned around and looked back at me. I didn’t have a clear view, so I back up ten or twelve feet, thinking I might be able to go for a photo. But the bobcat thought otherwise. As soon as I began backing up, it took off running again and was gone in less than two seconds. Sigh.

I drove slowly trying to remember exactly where it crossed the road so I could look at its tracks, but I didn’t find them. Instead, I saw a pair of farm dogs galloping down the fence row on the side of the road from whence the bobcat had come. Maybe that’s what it was running from.

I am almost ready for warmer weather now, not because I don’t like winter (I do very much), but because I need some temperatures more conducive to canoe repair. I can’t use epoxy until the temp is at least 60, and 70 would be much, much better. I thought I might be able to heat the garage up some with a space heater if it was 40 outside, so I brought one home from church and plugged it in. It only raised the temperature to about 50 in the garage – not nearly warm enough. So I returned the space heater on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, while I was at church, one of the kids in my Sabbath School class noticed a bird outside our classroom window and wanted to know what it was. I took a quick glance and erroneously pronounced it a mourning dove. Upon further inspection, I knew that it was most certainly not a mourning dove. I had no idea what it was. We observed the bird through the window for about five minutes from less than 10 feet away. It had a very long bill and would use it to probe holes in the ground, presumably for snacks of the invertebrate variety. It would bob up and down rather comically. What a day for me to have decided to leave the camera at home! I always take my camera to church with me, but when I saw it that morning, I inexplicably decided… nah. :-/

When I left the room it was still out there. I sought out one of our church members who is a wildlife biologist. He has done some birding, but even though that was not his expertise, he came down straight away. He thought it might be an American Woodcock, but wasn’t sure. When I got home I looked that up, and I have to say, he nailed it.

So three rare (for me) wildlife sightings in as many days, and exactly zero photos of them. Still, just seeing them was a treat for me, and perhaps not being able to take pictures made me observe them more carefully in person.

Yesterday after I dropped Beth off at school, I stopped at the Mary and Quentin Hutchins Forest in Canterbury, NH. It’s not far from my house. My reason for stopping was to collect some geocaches (which I found).

It is a managed forest, and has a “Tree Farm” sign at the trailhead. Indeed, one of the trails is called “Tree Farm Loop.” I happened to have my backpack in the trunk of my car, so I went ahead and hoisted it onto my shoulders and strapped in. There wasn’t much in it, other than the things that “live” there all the time: a water bottle (with only a little water in it), a water filter, a first aid kit, some rope, my mess kit, fire starting materials, a flashlight or two, and some duct tape. Maybe a few other things. I figured these would be prudent things to carry since I was alone.

It was a lovely trail.

Tree Farm Loop Trail

Tree Farm Loop Trail

Before I started, I ran some software I had loaded onto my GPS – an NMEA logger. Basically, it logs the coordinates on a regular basis. I had noticed that the trails had not been entered into the project, and I wanted to change that.

I hiked around the Tree Farm Loop, as that’s where both geocaches were located (there was another at the trailhead that I had found the previous week, so this was a return trip). About the time I found the second cache, the battery in the GPS died. It should not have, as it’s been mounted in my car plugged in to a power source for over a week. I guess the batteries are getting too old to take a full charge.

At the intersection of the Tree Farm and Burnham Brook Loops

At the intersection of the Tree Farm and Burnham Brook Loops

It did manage to log most of the trail I hiked, but there was also the Burnham Brook Trail there that I also wanted to log. But without an operable GPS, I decided to quit early and go home.

I came back today with the GPS as fully charged as I could get it. I figured that if I hiked the Burnham Brook Trail quickly, I could get it logged before the battery drained down. So that’s what I did. I could not resist stopping for several photos, but they were all hurried shots.

There was lots of club moss. Allen Norcross (New Hampshire Gardener) clued me in that not all the club mosses in these parts are the same species. I think this is Shiny clubmoss (Lycopodium lucidulum).

Club Moss

Club Moss(Lycopodium lucidulum)

Here is Burnham Brook, the trail’s eponymn.

Burnham Brook

Burnham Brook

I couldn’t tell from looking at the satellite photos which way it flowed, as I would lose its track on both directions. It wasn’t hard to tell once I got there (it flows from left to right, i.e., west to east).

And here is what I think is some coyote scat. It’s chock-full-o-hair.

Coyote scat

Coyote scat

Other possiblities include a bobcat (though it looked too large for that) or a fishercat (but again, too large), or a domestic dog (except it’s made primarily of hair, which you don’t get much of in kibble). So I’m sticking with coyote.

Not that you wanted to see that.

Yesterday was an “off” day for me, which was a welcome change. I was planning to do a little tool shopping to prepare for our trip to Holbrook, but never managed to gather sufficient momentum to make that happen. Instead, Beth and I did a little geocaching.

After we hid our two caches in the beginning of this month, another cacher came and found one of them, and decided she would hide a few more (where “a few” equals “four”). So Beth and I decided to go and collect them – they are in our neighborhood (where “our neighborhood” equals “within five miles of our house”).

When we got to Battis Crossing, which is the road where two of the caches were located, the GPS still had not locked onto the satellites. So we drove past that to the next cache, which is near a fantastic little spring in Canterbury. I stop there a couple of times per month to refill the water bottles I keep in my car. It is some very good water. About half the time I drive by it, there are one or more cars stopped there filling jugs, and that was true this time too. So we passed that cache as well, and made our way to the fourth one (which I had already found the week before).

I pointed Beth to Ground Zero and she found the cache and signed the log. Then we hopped back in the car, turned around, and went back from whence we had come. There was still a car parked at the spring, so we kept going until we got to Battis Crossing. By then, the GPS had locked onto the satellite, so we were ready to look for some caches.

We found the first one with little difficulty, and then set out for the second one. That’s when I stepped on a very slippery patch of ice, lost my footing, and fell. Based on Beth’s reaction, I must have done some extremely amusing acrobatics in my bid to regain my balance. Luckily, I was not hurt (other than that I have had a sore knee ever since). I quickly recovered, and we found this trail leading to the cache:

Battis Crossing

Battis Crossing

This trail is a continuation of Battis Crossing Road, which the GPS insisted went further than it did. I assume it used to follow this trail. The GPS also said we were near Sawyer’s Ferry Road, which I have seen on old maps before. The old maps (including Tomtom’s) indicate that Battis Crossing used to connect to Sawyer’s Ferry Road. Both of those roads are only narrow tracks now. I would imagine that they used to meet near a homestead, but I didn’t see one anywhere (and this cache was pretty close to where the map says the used to meet). It would probably not be difficult to find an old foundation near there though.

From the name, I think we can probably assume that Sawyer’s Ferry was located at the other end of Sawyer’s Ferry road… on the Merrimack River. That would be pretty interesting to explore as well, but it’s on private property. I am not one to go knocking on the strangers’ doors and ask if I can explore their property. I might find the ferry by canoe someday though.

We found the second cache and hiked back to the car without any further incident. Then we went back to the spring to look for the final cache of the day. We arrived, and there were no cars parked there. We got out and hunted around for the cache. I found it in a place that Beth had already looked (much to her chagrin). We emptied the container out on the concrete wall above the spring and Beth went through it trying to decide what to trade.

Beth at the spring in Canterbury

Beth at the spring in Canterbury

We could have gone looking for four more caches (one of which I already have, but Beth does not), but by then, she was ready to go home. We’ll save those for another day.